For Judge Racquel Reyes-Aglaua, each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for the entire female community, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it.
With almost 25 glorious years of dedicated service, Judge Kay, as she is fondly called, is on top of her field. Just like the rest of the successful woman-leaders in government, she has had her humble beginning.
After acquiring a Bachelor of Arts Major in Journalism at the University of the Philippines College Baguio, she started working in government as Information Officer III at the Department of Trade and Industry in 1990 and later became the agency’s Legal Officer III, her first job as a lawyer.
Her career started to reach new heights when she was appointed as the Branch Clerk of Court V in 1998 at the Regional Trial Court, Branch 3 in Tuguegarao City and later promoted to Public Attorney V in 2006 at the Public Attorney’s Office. During these years, she has assisted four different judges not only in their judicial and administrative functions but also inside the courtroom on a regular basis.
Her exposure and knowledge of the rules of procedures and trial techniques for almost 10 years have made her become the Presiding Judge at the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 1 in Tuguegarao City, a position she holds since 2008 until today.
Her success proves that women are, indeed, capable of leading key positions in a male-dominated profession.
Many feathers have been added to her cap of achievements from then and up to this day, but Judge Kay takes pride in being a staunch advocate of gender equality and women empowerment while she excellently performs her profession.
Despite her busy schedule, she continuously serves as an inspiration to other women who still live in fear, who are still being victimized by gender discrimination, harassment and all forms of violence and moves them to stand up for their rights and overcome their fears and weaknesses.
Believing that no gender is superior to the other nor dominates the other, Judge Kay has been one of the most sought-after speakers for women’s rights and relevant laws on women in the region.
She is very generous in sharing what she knows particularly on Anti-Violence Against Women and Children, Anti-Rape Law, Magna Carta of Women, among others. She also assists victims of gender-based violence and refers them to the concerned agencies that could address their immediate needs.
Her deep involvement in gender and development advocacy has made her become the President of the Zonta Club of Central Tuguegarao from 2020 to 2022 where she led various projects and activities in elevating the status of women to greater heights.
“Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength,” she said, adding that women are not inferior nor weak and their rights are human rights that need to be recognized.
Among the trailblazing projects she initiated during her term include the ‘Gadget mo, Sagot Ko Project’ which benefitted more than a hundred indigent students during the height of the pandemic.
She and her daughter, Megan, also a Zontian, launched a donation drive to generate funds for the project and also received an old set of computers that were donated to some public schools and barangay halls in Tuguegarao City.
Having a heart for the vulnerable and marginalized sectors, Judge Kay led the Club engaged in massive relief and rehabilitation operations during the mega flood brought by Typhoon Ulysses in 2020.
With her unique brand of leadership, more than P2 million worth of cash and in-kind donations such as groceries, clothing, medicines, emergency kits, life vests, and portalets, among others were distributed personally to the victims and barangay officials in Tuguegarao City and in neighboring towns like Iguig, Amulung, Solana, Enrile and Alcala.
It was during this time that her Club launched the Knit and Crochet Project, in partnership with the Padday na Yena, a group of mothers whom they trained to knit and crochet. The Club provided the capital for the mothers and helped them sell and market their products.
During her stint as ZCCT President, the Club partnered with the Local Government of Tuguegarao in establishing the Tuguegarao City GAD Center where the Club was assigned as Center Manager, assisting the LGU in the preparation of its GAD plans and reports.
“We also launched the Search for the Most Anti-VAWC Responsive Barangay in Tuguegarao City to encourage the barangay leaders to be more responsive in preventing violence against women and children,” Judge Kay said, adding that they also donated books to schools, anti-COVID kits, food packs and supported barangay community pantries.
Because of the exemplary performance and the numerous meaningful activities the Club had engaged in during her Presidency, the Zonta Club of Central Tuguegarao received the Diamond Award for Outstanding club performance, the highest award given to a Club in Area 4 which consists of nine Zonta Clubs.
Judge Kay proves that it is possible to combine commitments to various works because one’s various responsibilities can actually complement one another. However, in times of high demand for her energy, she said the emphasis is best placed on priority activities while lesser priorities may have to give away.
According to her, our community is one of the very lucky few that allows women to gather and celebrate their strength and femininity, without fear or shame, of being women.
“We have reached that point where we have women leaders who empower, dispelling fears, ignoring and disproving prejudice, and showing what we really are and what we are capable of,” she said, adding that for all the work we do, we might be saving a life of a mother, a daughter, a sister.
Judge Kay’s mission does not end here as she vows to continue to stand up for all women and children in creating safe spaces for them and in pursuing a vision of making this world a better place for all. #(ALM/OTB/JKC/PIA Region 2)